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Choosing the Right Trail Runner

Choosing the Right Trail Runner

Finding the perfect trail running shoe is nearly as hard as selecting a ski boot. Read these tips before you buy.
By Jennifer Davis
posted: 05/18/2010
trail running

Now that the ski season has ended, it’s time to transition to your summer sport. Trail running is a great way to get outdoors and stay in shape for next winter. But your ordinary sneakers just won’t cut it. You need a tougher shoe that can withstand the demands of the unpaved trail.

Before selecting a shoe, assess your needs. Will you be running steep and windy mountain trails or straight flat dirt paths? Toe rands (hard rubber caps on the front of your shoe) and nylon flex plates protect your forefeet on rough terrain with switchbacks and exposed roots and rocks. Want four-season performance? Look for water-resistant uppers and aggressive tread to shed mud and snow.

Do you have gait problems: a tendency for your feet to roll in (over-pronate) or roll out (under-pronate) as you run? The tread on an old pair of sneakers should reveal any pronation problems. In general, those suffering from over-pronation need more support and motion control from a shoe. Look for a high scree collar to stabilize your ankle. Under-pronators require more cushioning and flexibility.

Selecting the right trail running shoe is almost as nuanced as choosing the right ski boot. And just like ski boots, you running shoes need to fit properly to be effective and safe. Before you buy a new pair of runners, consider getting a gait analysis and fit consultation. Many specialty shops offer shoe-fit and -maintenance programs similar to ski shops’, so you can take your shoes back for adjustments as long as you have them. Armed with the right info, you’ll get a pair of shoes that’ll fit comfortably and perform well. Click here to see a few standouts.

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